Mike Bufton mixes things up, keeps summer jumpin' as DJ Mr Mr
The UAE’s house music guru is known for founding clubbing brand audio tonic, as well as for his radio show on the UAE’s Radio 1.
He also runs a record label in Dubai, so has plenty to keep him busy during the summer…
How did you get started in Dubai with your radio show and club night?
It all stemmed from a pirate radio mixtape, a Dubai nightlife forum, a lady called Emma B, and a gentleman called Jeff Price. I posted on a forum asking about the UAE radio industry and what was happening with dance shows. Emma responded and, when I came over in 2005, she arranged a meeting with Jeff. I returned as a resident DJ at Lotus One in 2006 and started the show in May. It seems like yesterday! The club night started as a live broadcast from 360˚ - even now, people are still asking for it to come back on air.
Your work couldn’t really be classed as nine to five. How do you combine it with family life?
I’ve got it down to a T now! People don’t really see behind the scenes, but I’m in the office on Sunday morning at 9am preparing for events the following weekend, catching up with emails, marketing, PR, interviews, booking agents, itineraries, social media… During the week I try to keep it nine to five-ish, but I have the privilege of being able to take time off with my family when I want to. I work all weekend, but always make time for the family - it’s essential.
What do you usually do during your summer downtime?
With 360˚ now open all year round I only tend to get away during Ramadan, as most of the UAE entertainment industry people do. This year I spent more time in the UK to connect with the industry and listen to what’s going on sound-wise within the clubs, bars and on the radio.
Do you have a favourite summer hangout?
I’ve been in England and Ibiza and the weather has been amazing! It’s been nice to go from outdoor life to outdoor life. It hasn’t been all play, though - I dedicate time every day to email and music even when I’m on holiday.
Tell us a little about your break in Ibiza…
It was fantastic! I was impressed with a new club called Booom! - we had our best night there. In all honesty Space was a bit of a letdown, but the last time I went it was open all day (now it opens at 7pm). We also checked out the new Ushuaia Tower venue on a hotel rooftop, which was amazing. There’s something special about open-air clubbing. Ibiza has always been expensive but there’s a VIP trend coming in, which is kind of ruining things. Dhs120,000 for a table? Crazy money, but people are spending it.
Which of audio tonic’s guest DJs have impressed you the most?
We’ve had so many. A stand-out would definitely be Hot Since 82, who launched our summer sessions in June. Others of note include Kolombo and Noir - they smashed it! For pure musical quality, Dusky, DJ T and Robbie Akbal are class.
Where are your favourite venues in the UAE?
Of course, my number one is 360˚. Without being biased, it’s one of the most incredible venues in the world. Blue Marlin is really nice for something different with a great sound system, and Trilogy was a wicked venue with so many different rooms and lots going on - RIP.
What’s your take on Dubai and Abu Dhabi as clubbing destinations?
Dubai has a much wider demographic of people from across the world. Abu Dhabi isn’t quite there yet.
What’s on the cards for Mr Mr and audio tonic this season?
We try to keep the line-up fresh and forward-thinking, but also hard-hitting. It’s easy to book names that are headlining everywhere - you just pay the big bucks and ‘voila’. We have a different approach and it’s worked for seven seasons: consistency and quality. Launching the season on October 3 is the Middle East debut of Nick Curly, and October 4 is the debut of Irish duo Feel My Bicep. Downstairs we’re launching a monthly concept called ‘Breakin Even’ with The Stanton Warriors. Other names include Tube & Berger, Teenage Mutants, Adana Twins and the return of Hot Since 82.
Any advice for budding young DJs out there?
Enjoy yourself, play music you love, practise, practise, practise (and try to learn on turntables), listen to other DJs and learn from them whether or not you like their music. If you can get yourself into the studio, even better. Start making your own music and spend as much time as you can learning. Time is of the essence: you need lots of it, with patience.
Hear Mike’s audio tonic show every Friday at midnight on Radio 1, 104.1FM